Wildcats End Unprecedented Semester and Look Ahead to Potential Return of Competitions
- 246 Views
- December 22, 2020
- Undergraduate Students
When it became clear that COVID-19 would drastically alter the landscape of college athletics during the Fall 2020 semester, Daemen College Director of Athletics Traci Murphy didn’t mince words about the resolve of the Wildcats.
“Let me assure you, the Daemen Division of Athletics is not closed. We must continue to compete for championships, regardless of what month the competition is in. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Wildcat fans and supporters last July, just days after the college announced a postponement of all athletic competitions until after Jan. 1, 2021.
True to Murphy’s sentiments, the Division of Athletics has found a way to keep student-athletes active and engaged despite the circumstances. Each of the college’s 17 intercollegiate athletic teams underwent a six-week resocialization period, a plan developed by Murphy and Jeff Sage, assistant athletics director for sports medicine and performance, that called for a gradual ascent of athletic activities.
Using guidance from the NCAA as well as state and local government, training was conducted in a way that minimized the potential Covid-19 and also lowered the risk for severe injuries that may have resulted had the return to normal practice and play been quick and hasty.
Focusing on community projects and service
Student-athletes engaged in various community projects and initiatives. Following the social unrest that enveloped the country in late spring and into summer, Daemen student-athletes were vocal about their desire to fight against racial injustice and for a more inclusive world. Those sentiments carried over to the fall semester when senior tennis student-athlete Jose Williamson III authored the first in a series of blog posts known as the Wildcat Social Series, a platform for student-athletes to write about topics of their choosing. Climate change, mental health and the importance of voting were covered, among other topics. Williamson, a Minneapolis native, blogged about the murder of George Floyd that triggered protests around the country. It happened just blocks from his home.
“That day, I began to understand all of the times when my father would say, ‘watch your speed’ and my mother would say, ‘be home soon,’ and all the prayers from my grandmother that made it very clear that this was bigger than just their love for me. It was their love for all of us. It was because they understood the harsh reality of systemic racism that we have to deal with every single day. As hard as it was, I began to face the reality that George Floyd could very well have been me,” Williamson wrote.
The turbulence brought on by social justice movements and a global pandemic also led student-athletes to become active in voter registration efforts here on campus. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee partnered with the History and Political Science Department, the Division of Institutional Advancement and the Division of Student Affairs to launch the “Get Civically Fit at Daemen” campaign, a college-wide effort to promote voter registration and provide information on the voting process.
In addition, a group of student-athletes participated in a socially-distanced reading program for children at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. The women’s tennis team provided virtual tennis instruction as part of the Western New York Girls in Sports Day, a program sponsored by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. Student-athletes with the men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball teams spent time, both in person and virtually, developing relationships with four children through a partnership with Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit organization that pairs college athletic programs with children who face life-threatening and chronic illnesses. A campus-wide mask sale conducted by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee raised money for the American Cancer Society. And, the Division of Athletics announced a new partnership with Olympic medalist Samantha Livingstone to bring The WHOLE Athlete Initiative to our campus to shine a light on student-athlete mental health objectives.
Working toward a brighter future
The East Coast Conference has released revised schedule formats that include a reduction in the overall number of contests due in part to a decreased timeframe for seasons of competition. This includes a re-imagining of schedules for men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball, sports that normally compete in the fall that will see their abbreviated seasons moved to March and April of 2021. Men’s and women’s basketball will be the first teams reporting back to campus with their seasons slated to get underway in mid-January.
The Game on Campaign asks donors to contribute at various levels to the Daemen Wildcats Gotta Play Fund, which will offset losses in valuable external revenue lines that make a direct impact on a championship-caliber student-athlete experience.
“These student-athletes have lost out on so much since the pandemic began, and we must do everything in our power to ensure their hard work and sacrifices aren’t met with yet another disappointment,” Murphy said.
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